Making the decision to get clean is a brave one, that requires dedication. You are certainly not alone when you face that journey, with over 9% of the US population using illicit drugs.
Addiction causes changes in the brain which persist even after you stop abusing a substance. These cause cravings; whether mild or intense, drug cravings will test your resolve to stay clean.
5 Ways to Beat Drug Cravings
There are strategies you can use, to help you get through those testing moments – here are five of them you might want to think about.
1. Know Your Triggers
Take some time to think about your use of drugs. Are there situations where you are more likely to use? Perhaps your use has become part of being around certain people in your life or visiting a certain place. Think about all of these things, and try to avoid those triggers, if you can.
If you can’t, then it will help to have a strategy in place for if you feel the desire to use. It means, should the desire hit, that you won’t feel overwhelmed, you’ll feel in control.
2. Have Support
Ongoing support should be part of your recovery plan, whether that started with assisted therapy or a 12-step program. That might be attending meetings, having a sponsor or a therapist that you can call when you are feeling an intense urge to use.
When you’re in the grip of a craving, it can lead to catastrophizing. That’s a kind of thinking that looks at the worst-case scenario, ‘I can’t get through this,’ or, ‘X will happen if I don’t use.’ In other words, your brain will make you think you have no other choice.
But, of course, you do. It can help to write all the reasons why you don’t want to use down so you can read through them. Include the fact that physical cravings don’t last forever.
4. Ride the Crave
You can’t avoid having cravings, so rather than try to deny them, some in recovery choose to ‘surf the urge’ instead. What that means is using mindfulness techniques to stay in the moment and accept it for what it is.
By staying in the moment, acknowledging how you are feeling both physically and emotionally, you can accept the urge without giving in to it. This technique can help you understand that cravings are transient, not permanent.
5. Channel Your Energies
Taking up a new hobby can be a helpful distraction. Doing something creative such as painting can help you to express your feelings. Joining a gym or taking on some other physical challenge allows your body to regulate itself again and normalizes sleep patterns.
Having new interests can prove to be a welcome distraction when you feel a craving, it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it works for you.
It’s Your Strategy
Whatever strategies you use to help beat drug cravings, it has to be something that works for you. Take these ideas and adapt them so they are ideas that you want to use, and will give you the best chance of getting through to the other side. Good luck – you got this.